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Saoirse Ronan vs. Margot Robbie: the Mary, Queen of Scots movie showdown


This January, there's not just one acting queen to grace our screen, there's two. And bonus: they are both playing real-life royals.

Margot Robbie is the famous virgin Queen Elizabeth I, while Saoirse Ronan is Mary Stuart aka Mary, Queen of Scots in the film of the same name.

Directed by British theatre director Josie Rourke in her feature film debut, Mary Queen of Scots depicts the moment in history where Mary Stuart attempts to overthrow her cousin's reign.

Irish-raised Ronan puts on a terrific Scottish accent to portray her queen, which is the least you expect from the acclaimed star of 2018's coming-of-age hit Lady Bird. And there are already more award-season rumours regarding her performance in this sweeping historical drama.

Similarly, Australian performer Robbie, who was Oscar-nominated this year for her electric performance in ice-skating biopic I, Tonya, tackles a British accent to portray the queen of England.

Both actresses have given critically acclaimed performances, worked with big names and are loved by audiences around the globe. So before we see them battle as queens in Mary, Queen of Scots, we look at how they compare on the acting battlefield.

Academy Awards

Saoirse was first Oscar-nominated in 2008 as Best Supporting Actress for her role as precocious 13-year-old Briony in Ian McEwan adaptation Atonement. She has since received further nominations for Best Actress for her performances in Brooklyn, playing an Irish emigrant to New York, and Lady Bird, the hit coming-of-age comedy drama.

She has yet to win an Oscar, but to be nominated for three already at the age of 24 implies that it won't be long before she's on that stage holding her very own Oscar.

Robbie was in the same category for Best Actress this year along with Ronan, recognised for her complex performance as disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, a figure who compellingly glides between sympathy and contempt. But Frances McDormand beat them both for her outstanding turn in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Again, Robbie is still young at only 28, so she is a sure to receive more nominations and possible wins in the future as she becomes attached to more impressive films. Will she and Ronan be competing against each other again, this time within the same movie? Only time will tell.

Winner Ronan

Big directors

Combined, the pair have been directed by an impressive list of famous directors. Ronan was cast in Joe Wright's Atonement when she was only 12 and worked with him again in Hanna. She's also been directed by quirky indie legend Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Oscar-nominated Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and fantasy specialist Peter Jackson (The Lovely Bones).

Robbie, too, has worked with big names including Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street), David Yates (The Legend of Tarzan), David Ayer (Suicide Squad) and, soon, Quentin Tarantino, when she plays actress Sharon Tate in his new movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (released in July 2019).

Winner Tricky one, but Ronan just steals it.


Apart from a couple of guest appearances and a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live, Ronan has yet to take on a big TV role. And while Robbie hasn't been in any big Netflix originals or award winning HBO dramas yet, she did appear in 327 episodes of Australian soap opera Neighbours as Donna Freedman.

Winner Robbie

Music videos

Occasionally, big stars branch out into music videos. Margot Robbie hasn't got any to her name, but Saoirse Ronan has a couple, most notably as the Galway Girl in Ed Sheeran's 2017 hit of the same name, where she takes Ed out on an epic night of adventure around Ireland.

Winner Ronan

Voice roles

Ronan has lent her voice to the English dubbed version of Studio Ghibli's Japanese animation Arrietty, as well as family film Justin and the Knights of Valour and, more recently, the animated, experimental Loving Vincent, the world's first hand-painted movie.

On the other hand, Margot was one of Peter Rabbit's younger sisters, Flopsy, in 2018 family hit Peter Rabbit, and is set to reprise her role as Harley Quinn, though just in voice this time, in The LEGO Movie 2 (out in February 2019).

Winner Another tough one, but going by Flopsy's sheer cuteness, Robbie wins.

On-screen partners

Being two huge actresses in Hollywood, the pair have had their fair share of handsome on-screen love interests. Ronan was in a love triangle with Max Irons and Jake Abel in The Host, and she had to choose between Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson in Brooklyn. More recently, Saoirse was loved-up (albeit for a short time) in Lady Bird with the internet's current heart-throb, Timothée Chalamet.

Robbie was paired up with Domhnall Gleeson in Goodbye Christopher Robin too, but has also been with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street and Alexander Skarsgård in The Legend of Tarzan. Acting crazy in love was easy in Suicide Squad when she starred opposite Jared Leto's Joker, and she even ended up with Will Smith in 2015's Focus. We'll have to concede this one to her.

Winner Robbie


We've studied their filmography and the scores are in:

Saoirse Ronan 3

Margot Robbie 3

It's a draw, obviously because they're both fantastic actresses who are only just getting started in their domination of Hollywood.

Mary, Queen of Scots is something new for the both of them, as they each tackle iconic royals from British history in a period drama full of tension, rivalry and female power.

Watch the epic feud unfold in Cineworld cinemas when Mary, Queen of Scots is released on 18th January 2019. Will Ronan and Robbie be recognised at next year's Oscars? Let us know what you think @Cineworld.

Nadine Shambrook is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.